Arcade Paradise VR Is A Compelling Business Sim That Rewards Hard Work

Arcade Paradise VR is a strong adaptation that rewards your hard work, though the initial grind may prove off-putting. Read on for our full impressions.

One of the coolest things I could’ve wished for as a kid was to have my own arcade, though they weren’t somewhere I often visited beyond very occasional trips. Home consoles dominated my childhood gaming, so why does Arcade Paradise VR make me feel so nostalgic? That beautiful electronic soundtrack likely helps, though I’m otherwise still figuring that out.

Arcade Paradise was originally released on flatscreen platforms two years ago, and this light management sim comes with 39 playable arcade cabinets. Developed by Nosebleed Interactive, you play as Ashley, an older teenager in Grindstone whose father has tasked him with managing a disused laundromat. Earning money through a series of gamified chores, you’ll gradually purchase new games to convert this into a fully-fledged arcade.

Moments like the theatre mode-style cutscenes betray Arcade Paradise’s flatscreen roots, which hampers immersion. Some scenes would benefit from letting you explore; we don’t need a cutscene playing that shows us the laundromat while your father calls you to explain what’s going on.

However, some trade-offs make this VR adaptation considerably better, and it’s clear this is more than just a straightforward port. For example, washing machines and dryers have been redesigned to suit the medium’s physicality better. Instead of pushing buttons to put a load of clothes on, their heights have been adjusted and you can now directly grab the doors or twist the setting dials.

Only 12 of the 39 playable arcade games have been fully realized for VR, and that’s fine. Revamping every game with full-motion controls simply isn’t necessary when examples from the roster includes a match-3 puzzler, crate stacking and a Pac-Man parody. Standard controls are fine, though the contrast makes me appreciate the VR options further. I really like the mixed reality mode, Future Home: Enter Reality. Placing multiple arcade cabinets wherever you’d like across your living space feels excellent.

There’s considerable depth to running this business. Every arcade game becomes more popular the more you play, gradually earning you more money. You can also adjust the difficulty or price per play, which affects your overall income per hour. Daily arcade challenges encourage you to keep playing since this offers a second currency that further expands the business in different ways. Whether that’s putting out advertisements or hiring an assistant manager who collects cash from each machine, you can slowly make this a more efficient operation.

Sadly, you can’t just spend the entire working day playing video games since the laundromat requires continual management. Alongside washing and drying clothes for customers, you must collect trash littered across the premises each day, pick up used gum and clean the toilet. No one wants to visit somewhere filthy and until the arcade becomes more popular, washing clothes is your primary income.

Those initial hours are Arcade Paradise VR’s most significant problem in convincing people to keep going. Since you don’t immediately begin with the full arcade, the game’s best described as a slow burner. You have a few arcades in the back room, but that won’t be your initial moneymaker. You’ll need to create a convincing business case for your father to gradually convert it.

The lack of instant gratification may prove off-putting for some. Doing endless laundry for others, picking up garbage and cleaning shit-stained toilets is hardly my idea of a relaxing time, even if these tasks have all been gamified. Repetition can set in over longer play sessions. Though Arcade Paradise VR takes time to truly get going, I encourage you to stick with it.

After committing numerous hours to upgrading this laundromat, I found an utterly compelling management sim. Arcade Paradise VR excels at rewarding your hard work, giving you enough work where it doesn’t feel like upgrades are handed to you on a platter but not so much that it’s a complete slog. Gradually seeing this arcade grow is immensely satisfying.

That’s further boosted by the entertaining arcade games available. Some of these are shorter games, which is expected when you’ve got 39 to choose from. Still, I came away pleasantly surprised by how much depth Nosebleed has put into some arcade games. They aren’t just quick mini-games and while they aren’t all equal, I felt encouraged to return.

Running on standalone hardware means the visual presentation has understandably taken a hit compared to the flatscreen version, though Arcade Paradise VR still looks great on Quest 3. However, I did encounter some technical issues during my playthrough so far, such as being unable to pull up my PDA or the wider environment failing to load on multiple occasions. Restarting the game usually fixed these problems and I could never replicate those issues when I tried.

There’s a decent set of comfort options, too. Arcade Paradise VR offers artificial stick-based locomotion and teleportation movement, letting you choose between snap or smooth turning with adjustable angles and turning speed. You don’t have a specific seated mode but there is a height reset option that works just as well. It also lets you choose your watch hand and change how you grip items.

I’ve enjoyed my time so far with Arcade Paradise VR but it’s a game that requires patience. Running a laundromat isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun time. Still, gradually building your arcade feels very rewarding and the mixed reality support only adds to that. With the new DLC on the way, I’m excited to see what comes next.

Arcade Paradise VR is available now on the Meta Quest platform for $19.99.

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